“It’s about this size.” The doctor held her thumbs incredibly close together over a strip of paper. “You can see 4 millimeters isn’t much, but I know it can cause a whole lot of problems.”
I could barely see the space between her hands, my eyes still glazed over with tears of pain. The morphine drip had been set up about half an hour before, but my right hand continued to press into the left side of my stomach, my body curled on the hospital bed. Kidney stone, was the first thought that popped into my mind a few hours earlier when the sharp pain woke me. I spent an hour debating whether or not I needed to go to the hospital in the middle of the night, but when the doctor finally confirmed my amateur prognosis, I was certain I made the right decision.
The subsequent days were filled with debilitating pain – definitely worse than the 20 plus hours of natural childbirth I had endured many years before. All the terrible things I ever heard about kidney stones were true. How could such a tiny thing cause so much agony?
Through the haze of pain, naseau, and prescription meds, I continually remembered the doctor demonstrating the size of that tiny stone. The average kidney stone is the size of a mustard seed. Jesus famously said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move and nothing will be impossible for you.” (Matthew 17:20) I have preached on this scripture several times over the years. Growing up in the mountains it was hard to imagine how such a gigantic chunk of land could be moved. Even with dynamite, it was no easy task. Now, I think Jesus enjoyed exaggerating on occasion – but he used extremes to make a point. Something so tiny that it can be easily missed can have a tremendous impact for the good.
It seems far easier to think of negative impacts than positive ones. The old glass half full – half empty illustration. Complaining about life is far easier than thinking of the things for which we are thankful. Yet, just a tiny 4 mm of thankfulness can turn our lives around. Replacing a small amount of complaining, worry or fear with praise, hope, or belief can truly be life-changing. Spending just a few minutes a day in prayer, sacred reading, meditation can impact the entire rest of our 24 hours each day for the better. A minute pebble can turn our lives one way or the other. Let’s take those miniscule irritants in our lives, and instead of allowing them to fester and take control, turn them into a force for good. Just 4 mm can change our lives, and it can change the world.